A puppy is not just for Christmas.
Neither is a good book. A good book is a treasure that can be revisited again and again. I have fond memories (and the books to prove it) of gifts left wrapped under the Christmas tree…square shaped, the thickness of your thumb, encased in red and gold Christmas wrapping paper. You know it is a book, because when you pick up it and knock the knuckles of your hand against flat surface, it gives back a sound that is specific. The travel of sound through leaf after leaf of paper, ensconced in a soft or hard cover; the sound made by a book wrapped in paper is a particular sound.
At Christmas, books take on another mystery. You do not know what book it is and when finally the big day arrives and you can maul your gifts free of their wrappings, you are greeted with covers and brief synopsis but still, you do not know what is to happen in the pages of your new book. Twice the enigma for you to unravel.
When you give the gift of reading to someone, particularly a child, you are giving the gift of possibility. Anything is possible in books. Any journey is possible. Any emotion is possible. Any meeting of strangers is possible. Books are magic. And sometimes, like any type of magic, books can be taken for granted.
If you are reading this you are fortunate. More fortunate that 750 million people on the planet.
In the world today (UNESCO Institute for Statistics) there are still 750 million illiterate adults, two-thirds of whom are women. Globally, the youth literacy rate increased from 83 per cent to 91 per cent over two decades, while the number of illiterate youth declined from 170 million to 115 million. This is great news but still, 115 million young people cannot read.
Regional and gender disparities persist, however. Literacy is lowest in least developed countries and higher among males than females. In the most recent years for which data are available, young women accounted for 59 per cent of the total illiterate youth population.
Do you know a young person, particularly a young woman who likes to read? That person and you yourself have access to the most amazing tool – the ability to decipher words! Let’s not take the precious gift of reading for granted this holiday season.
Some of the most beautiful books I have received as gifts still take pride of place on my book shelf and I revisit them throughout my life as they still have the power to transform. A book is not just for Christmas…